Getting Stains out of White Clothing

Getting Stains out of White Clothing

Ah, summer! The warmth on your back, the sand between your toes, and a giant blob of ketchup smack dab in the middle of your favorite white button-down shirt. From sunscreen to barbecued food, ‘tis the season for stains. Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la…..crap. Will that ever come out?

White clothes, especially, are a summer favorite - they’re fresh, they’re light, they go with everything. But they’re also extremely prone to marks and spots and discolored dots! The red, red wine that makes you feel so fine? It’ll only make you feel annoyed as it drips down your chest.

So, what’s your best course of action when a rabid piece of greasy hotdog finds its way onto the lap of your off white hoodie?


First, curse, and then do the following:


Act quickly: Stains set fast. Thus, the quicker you act the better your chances of restoring the garment back to its original state of fabulousness.


Don’t automatically use water: Water seems like the most logical choice in defending your clothes from dirt and other substances. But when the stain is oily (such as buttery foods, lipstick, or mascara), using water makes it harder to remove. Opt, instead, to use a dry paper towel.

If the stain comes from a non-oily source (dirt, sweat, or blood), water is useful as long as it’s cold (as hot water tends to make stains more permanent). Hold the clothes under the sink so that the stain is rinsed out from behind.


Use stain remover: Of course, stain remover helps too if you don’t overdo it. Flooding a stain with remover can make it hard to dry. Light applications - those that dab the duds - are your best bet.


Refrain from rubbing: Yes, stains are infuriating, especially when they soil your favorite baggy hoodie or your cherished top. You might want to yell “Out damn spot!” while vigorously rubbing like a laundry version of Lady Macbeth. But shun the Shakespeare. Rubbing spreads the stains and sets it into the folds of the fabric, causing a t-shirt tragedy.


Get specific: The American Cleaning Institute provides a stain removal guide on its website that tells you the specifics of removing just about any substance you can think of. This includes glue, candle wax, baked beans, barbecue sauce, butter, chocolate, deodorant, and grass. A few words of warning: Consider the instructions on your garment tag as cleaning solutions can affect fabrics differently.


Stay the course: Some stains don’t come out right away, yet this doesn’t mean they’ll never come out. Stay the course and be persistent - stains aren’t as permanent as their name implies. Many will give in as long as you don’t give up.


Hail the hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is often effective on blood stains. This is good news as these types of stains are especially unsightly. Lots of people look good wearing red. But wearing red blood cells? Not so much.


White clothing is part of summer and, with it, comes plenty of laundry issues. The above tips help your whites stay bright and beautiful. Still, if you find yourself especially stain-prone, consider an alternative. In other words, when in doubt, wear black.

Back to blog

1 comment

Great tips. So helpful. I was looking for information about stain removal and this piece of helpful advice came up. I spilled food on my very expensive top the other day and was trying to save it :(

teresa s

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.